Equal parts pitted beach plums and sugar. Our batch- 28 cups stemmed beach plums=14 cups of cooked and pitted beach plums=10 1/2 pints jam. I cooked the above in 2 batches because I did not have a large enough pot to do the whole thing at once.
14 cups washed and stemmed beach plums (pink to purple to take advantage of the natural pectin in the unripe ones)
1/2 cup water
7-8 cups sugar (sweetness will vary with ripeness of the beach plums)
5-6 pint jars (or 11 half pint jars)
Place a few small plates/bowls in the freezer to use to check that the jam is set.
Prepare jars (not lids and rings) by boiling in water for 10 minutes to sterilize and let sit covered in warm water bath until ready to fill. If you have hard water like I do add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the water to keep the glass clear. Bring a medium pot of water to boil, remove from heat and place lids and rings in pot, cover and set aside until ready to use.
Wash and de-stem plums. Place prepared plums and water in a large heavy bottomed pot and heat to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for 10 minutes until the plums are easily crushed using the back of a wooden spoon against the side of the pot. Place a large colander over an equally wide bowl, pour the cooked plums and juices into the colander, spread out the cooked plums to cool enough to handle. Set up a system where there is a discard/pit bowl and a reserve/pulp bowl near the colander. Remove the pits (discard) from the pulp (reserve). Measure the amount of drained plum juices and pulp then return both to the pot. Add an equal amount of sugar and stir. Slowly, with lid on over medium high heat, bring to a boil- stirring occasionally. Reduce heat if needed to maintain a slow rolling boil. Taste for desired sweetness and add more sugar if needed/desired, stir and return to a slow rolling boil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check that the jam is “set” (place a teaspoonful of not jam on cold plate, place briefly in freezer, tip the plate, if the jam doesn’t run and “behaves like jam” it is set), cook and check to see that the jam is set every 5 minutes. Once set, pour into the hot prepared jars filling to 1/2 inch below the rim, wipe the rim and edges with a damp paper towel, place warm lids in place and secure with rims. Place filled jars in water bath, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Turn heat off, leave jars in the hot water for 24 hours. Take jars out, wipe dry and label. Ready to serve when you are ready to eat.
Some of the snap peas got away from me and are now becoming the seeds for next year. I am leaving them on the vine until they are fully ripe and dry then collecting them and setting aside. I planted purple pole beans this year as a trial. I must say they are beautiful but the true worth will be known once they are ready to eat. The yellow wax beans were a great success last year prepared fresh and pickled so in they went again. The first harvest was more than I expected. They are washed and in the refrigerator so I can pickle tomorrow. The zucchini is late this year but they grow so quickly that this first little one will be ready by the end of the week and there are plenty of blossoms too.
The Italian peppers are coming along nicely, here is the first one that may be picked green if I get impatient. These beauties are golden when ripe. The hops are looking good but I need an expert. I am going to contact our local microbrewery, Relic Brewery, and offer the hops to them. The Elderberry bush-tree is both in bloom and forming berries.
The lesson here… feed the birds during winter months when food is scarce and bears are hibernating. Unless you want this cuddly guy making a visit and taking down your feeders.
The little creatures were all very distressed to see their food source demolished.
This lavender bush has “gone too far” to harvest. The best time to harvest lavender blossoms is just before the tiny petals open. I have never picked lavender for any purpose other than scenting a room or drying a few small bouquets but this spring Xav and I had lemon lavender tea at a holistic heath fair and thought it was delicious and decided we would give it a try with our own “crop”. My father sends lemons from California so it will be a truly homegrown experience. I picked the lavender from the bushes that were not as far along, made bundles held together by bag ties (saved from the grocery store and farmers’ market) and hung them upside-down on the clothes line on the porch. I was in a bit of a hurry, realizing that it was harvest time and that unsettled weather bringing rain would not help. The lavender should be dry when picked so that the flowers will dry without molding. The porch gets hot and dry though it does have light that comes in through windows (I have read not to dry in the sun) its the best place we have for this project.
Today I picked the bulk of the red currants on our bush. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them- jam? syrup? freeze? Stems removed and rinsed I decided to go with freezing in 1 cup portions so that they can be used in smoothies, desserts, in yogurt or why not red currant pancakes? Freezing will still allow me to make jam if I choose to but making jam won’t leave any wiggle room for other uses. Individual resealable bags packed, air gently squeezed out, the baggies labeled and placed in the freezer.
At the Farmers’ Market of Plainville I purchased Asian Greens from Dinebergs Farm. When I looked up “Asian Greens” on line I found many varieties of greens but after some digging I believe I purchased Purple Mizuna.
I picked the only items that were ready out of my garden; garlic scapes and snap peas which is how this recipe came to be. Cooking locally and seasonally is wonderful, everything is fresh and, in my mind, “as it should be” if we are trying to live as close to nature as possible.
1 cup brown rice; soaked, rinsed and cooked with 1 3/4 cup water till all the water is absorbed
1 Tablespoon canola oil (I use a gmo free product; either Trader Joe’s or Spectrum)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (found in the international section of a grocery store or at Asian markets)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon water
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground coriander
1 bunch Purple Mizuna (or other Asian Green); washed, leaves cut to1″ and stems to 1/4-1/2″ sections
4 garlic scapes; the tender part of the stems sliced thin
2 cups snap (or sugar) peas; washed and “strings” removed
1 onion; halved and sliced thin
1 Tablespoon canola oil.
Cook the brown rice. (Refer to an early post, College Kitchen Questions.)
In the meantime mix together the oils, soy sauce, water and spices for the sauce in a small bowl.
Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan (I use a cast iron skillet that has a lid) over medium high heat.
Prepare the vegetables, pour 1 Tablespoon canola oil into the hot pan, add the onions and stir occasionally so they do not burn, sautéing for 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, pour the sauce over top, reduce heat to medium and cover. Saute and stir occasionally for 2 minutes or until the greens (which are also purple) have wilted.
Serve over rice.
In the corner by the front steps where the sun is nice and warm early in the morning a common garter snake was sunning itself. I think we both startled each other! The evenings have been unusually cold so this one found the best spot to warm up.